2013 – 2014 Perhaps It Is Time For The Toronto Maple Leafs To Revamp Their Fourth Line Part II

Thankfully when writing to a blog unlike print you can make additions, corrections and the like and your handful of followers will forgive you for it, at least hopefully. One addition I failed right off the bat to make in my previous post was Troy Bodie who very much should definitely be included in any discussion revolving around revamping Toronto’s forth line.

Bodie has been nothing short of a revelation since his arrival in Toronto, someone I did not rightly give the benefit of the doubt when first looking at his signing and then quickly his stats via hockeydb.com; quickly dismissing him as a depth signing for the Toronto Marlies. When taking a look at arguably the leagues top fourth line, the Boston Bruins combination of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille (whom between them have 21 goals this season) their successful makeup contains two things, defensive acumen and speed; something I believe are both rounding out for Bodie who looking at this year appears to have pretty good speed and will sacrifice his body to block shots (14 blocks this year with 54 hits so far).

http://video.mapleleafs.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=446348

Looking at the following video you have to wonder if playing with Jerry D’Amigo and Jamie McClement is the right combination of grit, speed and a winning faceoff percentage, that line might have more success, the lead up to this goal is exactly what the Leafs need more of in their fourth line, if anything to keep the opposition hemmed in their own zone.

If Bodie and McClement are locks for the fourth line next year and the Leafs give a shot to D’Amigo/Ashton or bring in Leo Komarov or even Teemu Hartikainen I believe there is definitely going to be an increased impact with alot more time on ice. As always food for thought.

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2013 – 2014 Perhaps It Is Time For The Toronto Maple Leafs To Revamp Their Fourth Line

Is it time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to reconsider the makeup of their fourth line going into the summer? a question I have been mulling over for quite some time now. Coach Carlyle is known throughout the league for using the line sparingly at best, rotating between three scoring lines for most of the year. This must have an effect on the remaining players in terms of overall fatigue during the course of a season but the lack of a true shutdown line has become noticeable this past season to face off against other teams secondary scoring lines and is an area, in my opinion that the Leafs could easily improve upon over the summer with minimal investment. This isn’t written with the intention of focusing negatively on the current makeup of the fourth line given its legacy players but unfortunately the dynamic of the NHL has shifted in recent years and you do not see the opportunities for enforcers like Fraser McLaren or Colton Orr to affect a game with a timely hit or a fight like you once did; there just isn’t the same number of opposing sparing partners for them to square off against and that lack has hindered their overall effectiveness.

According to HockeyFutures.com the Maple Leafs organization is rife with a strength they do not yet appear to be tapping into which is a plethora of “Gritty bottom-six forwards with good size”. One such player that the Leafs really should consider in the near future, in my opinion, for a lengthy overall look next year is Jerry D’Amigo who in a couple of games with the big club this year proved that he can not only skate with some of the NHL’s best but his build (5’11”, 213lbs) which is almost tank like in nature allows him to forecheck with reckless abandon which has led to a fair number of turnovers in his brief appearance with the squad.

“D’Amigo is a strong, powerful forward who can motor at both ends of the ice. He has a tireless work-ethic and leaves everything on the ice. He’s a proven defensive player at the pro level, seeing countless defensive assignments over the last two seasons. He also provides offense in a supporting role and has a knack for raising his level of play when it matters most.” states HockeyFutures.com.

The other player needs no introduction in Carter Ashton, his willingness to grind it out in the dirty areas and engage in physical altercations has been well documented this year. The edge in which he plays is much needed on that line and coming it at decently sized 6’3”, 205lbs lends well to the makeup of this new forth line I am proposing. With Jamie McClement continuing to take the majority of the draws this line has the speeds and acumen to develop into a trustworthy group that could become more effective than what the Leafs currently have and has the potential skill level to go on offense and chip in the odd helper.

The growth and development of these two young players in D’Amigo and Ashton with additional time spent in the league learning the professional game could also see them move up the depth chart to the third line over time if their skill curves continue, something that will not occur if the Leafs do not make room for younger players to move up within the organization. There can not be much harm in playing this newly revamped forth line for 5 minutes a game as the potential benefits far outweigh the costs. What makes the situation even more interesting is that the team still has youngsters like Tyler Biggs at right wing and David Broll at left wing as replacements waiting in the wings for future consideration.

A potential stop gap measure would in a perfect scenario see the Maple Leafs consider another option that exists with the previously reported negotiations that may take place over the summer with Leo Komarov. The recent Finnish Olympian endeared himself to the Toronto faithful as a defensively responsible and considerably annoying presence against the opposition, something that had been sincerely missed since the days of Darcy Tucker. The other addition that for all intents and purposes mirrors Komarov with potentially more upside in terms of overall skill ceiling is recent acquisition Teemu Hartikainen who came over from the Edmonton Oilers in the Mark Fraser trade. Between McClement this could prove to be a considerably frustrating and gritty line to face off against, something the Leafs sorely need.

The Leafs regardless of how the post season pans out still have work to do this off season but hopefully they consider something like the above as a potentially inexpensive and cap friendly upgrade on their fourth line and focus on bolstering their defensive core. As always food for thought.

2013 – 2014 Toronto Marlies Sign Defenseman Bryce Aneloski to a Professional Try Out PTO

The Toronto Marlies recently signed defenceman Bryce Aneloski to a professional try out (PTO) contract on Friday. The 23 year old Pekin, Illinois native was currently playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs ECHL affiliate club, Orlando Solar Bears in his rookie season and has been performing admirably.

Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL draft, the 6’2″, 207lbs University of Nebraska-Omaha Maverick has put up some solid numbers in his first full professional year with 5 goals and 16 assists while sitting at an impressive and team leading +17.

Hockey’s Future has this to say in Aneloski’s Talent Analysis “Aneloski is a well-rounded two-way defenseman with good poise. He has a good first couple steps, good lead pass and can work the puck up the ice effectively. Can be used on special teams.”

Hopefully he gets to see some game action before the end of the year to see where he sits in terms of development curve. I still hold to the belief that defensemen take a little longer to develop than forwards and with the fairly potent core the Marlies look to be pretty solid heading into the final part of the year. With Zach Yuen benefiting from major minutes with the Solar Bears and Matt Finn set to join the Marlies next year the defense seems pretty set for the next couple of years. Wishing Aneloski the best with respect to this opportunity. As always, food for thought.